Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"

At least Collin Kaepernick listened. Are you listening?

Statue of kneeling football player - not Collin Kaepernick

Before we get into this discussion, I want to make something very clear:

I disagreed with Collin Kaepernick when he wore socks with pigs dressed like cops on them.

He also lost me when he showed up at a press conference wearing a shirt with Fidel Castro on it. I have a hard time listening to your protest of perceived systemic abuse by our own government when you’re wearing a shirt that honors a man who systemically abused his own people. Not only do I disagree with that message, but you really can’t give your critics ammunition like that. It gives people an excuse not to listen to you.

A similar thing happened when he sat down during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner during a preseason game in 2016. There was backlash. A social media firestorm was unleashed. People didn’t bother to listen.

And his message – the hard truth about racial inequality in America – really has to be addressed. It needs to be tackled head-on. It is important to bring it into the light. Collin Kaepernick was certainly tone-deaf in these situations and wound up turning off the very people to whom he was attempting to communicate.

Something changed

Collin Kaepernick met with Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret. Together, they came up with an alternative way to continue shining the light on the issue at hand, but in a more respectful manner. He could have chosen to remain seated. He could have chosen to turn his back on the flag, or hold up a newspaper, or pretend to sleep, much like a student section might when the opposing team is introduced at the beginning of a ballgame.

Because those student sections can be pretty crazy.

Student section - Cameron Crazies
Image via Wikimedia Commons

He could have done a number of things to intentionally disrespect the flag, our veterans, and our families. But he didn’t. He kneeled.

Because he listened to someone, he kneeled.

Now, we can go round and round about the appropriateness of kneeling versus standing. But I don’t think I had ever heard anyone say that kneeling is a sign of disrespect.

Ever.

No. This is not Collin Kaepernick kneeling

Until 2016.

That’s when a tattooed man with big hair and darker skin chose to take a knee. And people lost their collective minds, refusing to even consider that someone might have an opposing viewpoint that is appropriate and needs to be said. Nobody wants to listen to the other “side” anymore. Everyone is making assumptions about everything regarding the entire #TakeAKnee movement. I wish people would just listen for once, instead of merely hearing what they assume they hear.

If we would simply slow down, be quiet, and really listen to what is being said, maybe we could actually work towards getting something accomplished that would actually work towards bringing us together instead of driving us further apart.

That probably makes me a dreamer. As my brother recently reminded me, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel described our current situation quite perfectly in the song The Boxer: “Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” And when we do that, we build our walls a little thicker. We dig our trenches a little deeper. And these “United” States of America become anything but.

I don’t want to say that the Great American Experiment has died. I don’t think we’re there yet. But we’re sure getting closer. As Abraham Lincoln wisely observed while quoting Jesus:

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

"A house divided against itself cannot stand" Abraham Lincoln

We are divided, friends. And our house feels a whole lot like a house of cards teetering on the edge of collapse. It’s like we’re waiting for that small, yet firm, breeze to come by and just wipe us out.

As my band director once reminded us, there’s a reason we have two ears and one mouth. So can we please sit down, shut up, and listen to the real concerns that are drowning in all of the excess superfluous noise?

You probably think I’m simply talking to the “other” side and not yours. You’re wrong. We’ve spent too much time talking screaming past each other. And that hasn’t really worked, has it? So maybe we should try something else. Let’s try listening to each other for a change.

If Collin Kaepernick could do it, why can’t you? Why can’t I? Why can’t we?

You are welcome to share your opinion in the comments section. After all, the sharing of opinions is part of what has always made America great. That being said, any name calling or racist remarks will be deleted posthaste. 

I’ve led many special events. This one might have taken the cake.

Cowan Christian Church

Over the years, I’ve put together all kinds of different events. During my youth ministry days, we hosted all kinds of major events. We had Super Bowl parties and Volunteer Appreciation Nights and almost everything in between. The “Saw You at the Pole” rallies were always fun. I put together big concert events, including a major grand opening of a firehouse-turned-teen-outreach center. We had hundreds of teens and adults at that event. We called the building the Fire Escape, from Jude 23.

Save others by snatching them from the fire Jude 23

That event was pretty stinkin’ cool.

When I was preaching in Muncie, we hosted a “safe alternative to door-to-door trick or treating” called Trunk or Treat. It was a huge hit. Kids and their parents looked forward to our Trunk or Treat every year. We were able to make it bigger and better every single year, in spite of the bitter wind that cut through our church’s front lawn during the Trunk or Treat. It became a big stinkin’ deal.

And it was pretty stinkin’ cool.

Of course, during those days as a pastor,  I planned many weekly worship services. I also helped execute special services like Candlelight Christmas Eve services and Maundy Thursday services. There were also Mother-Daughter Banquets and church Homecoming celebrations. From fun to contemplative  to everything else in between, I’ve done quite a bit of event planning and coordinating and execution. Continue reading I’ve led many special events. This one might have taken the cake.

Living life and arriving safely at death

*This post contains affiliate links. You can read more in my Disclosure Policy. Thank you for your ongoing support.*

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Mark Batterson

“Be careful.”

“Stay safe.”

I say these phrases a lot. It’s habit. And I don’t really think that’s a bad thing. Safety is important – especially when it comes to our children. Unfortunately, we’ve become so concerned about safety that we act like it’s the only reason to live. We act like safety is the purpose of life. At least, I have acted like that from time to time. Mark Batterson has helped change my perspective about safety and the purpose of life.

His book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, is one of the books that changed my life when I first read it. It’s a relatively short read, but it’s packed with some powerful words. One of the quotes that hit me square between the eyes is this one:

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.

It’s the first point in his Lion Chaser Manifesto. If we live our lives concerned with safely arriving at the end of life, we set ourselves up for a life guided by fear. And a life dominated by fear leads to a lot of regrets. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to look back and wonder what might have been.

We’re not going to change the world by sitting idly by. We’re not going to change the world by allowing safety to be our only guiding force. If we’re going to change the world, we’re going to have to take risks. We might even have to live dangerously on occasion.

Yes, safety is something to consider. But it cannot be the driving force of our lives. It cannot be the purpose of our lives. Because when we use safety as our guiding force, we allow fear to creep in. We allow fear to control us.

And we all know that LOVE drives out fear.

When we live our lives full of fear, we miss out on the great adventure we were created to live. We live a less-than-full life. That not only impacts our lives, but the lives of the world around us.

No more fear. Live dangerously.

So live dangerously, my friends. Take a risk. It might be something as simple as walking next door and getting to know you neighbor. Or it might mean flying halfway around the world to stand in the gap for the voiceless, powerless, and oppressed. It might mean opening your home to a family of refugees. I don’t know where your journey will take you. But we cannot allow the idol of safety paralyze us. There is too much work to do. We have too much life to live.

So get up. Get moving. And change the world. That’s what love compels us to do.

That’s what we were made for. It’s what it means to live. And it behooves us to live.


If you’re interested in more about the Lion Chaser Manifesto, I recommend you check out these books. Let me warn you: they might change your life.

in-a-pit-with-a-lion-on-a-snowy-day chase-the-lion

 

Take The #40Pounds Challenge and change the world

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #40Pounds #CollectiveBias

back-to-school-and-changing-the-world-40pounds-ad

School has been in session for almost two months now. I know. You don’t have to say it. Many of you didn’t start school until Labor Day. But in order to have longer Fall, Winter, and Spring breaks, something has to give. So that means a shorter Summer for us. For our three teenagers, that wasn’t exactly happy news. For our youngest? Well, she started counting down the days as soon as school was out in May.

first-day-of-school-40pounds-ad

Yes. She’s a goofball. And we love her.

So now we’re just a few days away from the end of the first Nine Week Grading Period. That means we’ve had plenty of time to work out all the kinks and become a fine-tuned, well-oiled machine when it comes to getting our three high schoolers out the door and on the bus by 6:30 in the morning. Right?

Well, not exactly.

I’m not going to lie. It’s still pretty stressful in the minutes leading up to the bus’s arrival. But there are still a few tricks we’ve learned along the way. I’m happy to share the wisdom we have gained over the last two months.  Continue reading Take The #40Pounds Challenge and change the world

Thoughts about leadership

Leadership Quotes

This post may use affiliate links. Learn more in my Disclosure Policy.

“Getting by”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that political season is in full swing as we are hurtling towards November’s General Election at breakneck speed. The two parties’ national conventions are behind us and I although I only listened to a few speeches during those two weeks, the fear-mongering was in full display. And now we’re about to be bombarded with even more negative ads after negative ads, accusing politician’s opponents of doing everything from willfully watching corporations send good-paying jobs overseas to secretly kicking puppies and taking candy from sweet, innocent children.

I fully expect a whole lot of arguments about why I should vote against candidates and not very many arguments about why I should vote for their opponents. Such is the nature of contemporary politics, unfortunately. But, hey, it works. Or so they say, anyway. I disagree. Shouting down your opponent isn’t winning. It’s bullying. Turning your opponent into a straw man caricature you can easily convince 51% of the people to vote against doesn’t give you a mandate. It’s just getting by.

Just “getting by” is not acceptable. It isn’t acceptable for my kids when they do their homework. It’s not acceptable at most jobs, either. So why is just “getting by” acceptable when it comes to our elected leaders?

Servanthood and leadership

As I was contemplating making a run at the governorship, I thought a lot about leadership and what I believe a public leader should be like. I thought back to one of my favorite classes from my seminary days. It gave me a lot of leadership concept to chew on. That was ten years ago. I’m still chewing on them.

I even went back to my notes from Dr. Wasem’s class. As I perused those notes, it strengthened my belief that true leadership isn’t displayed by those who shout the loudest or generate the most fear. Leadership is about servanthood. That’s the heartbeat of a leader. With that in mind, I wonder what our local, state and Federal governments would look like if leaders truly approached their positions as service opportunities – chances to get their hands dirty – instead of stepping stools and ways to grab more power. That’s what Hans Finzel says in
The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make
:

A servant leader must be willing to get ‘down and dirty’ with his [or her] troops in the implementation of his [or her] objectives.

Don’t get me wrong. I know some people who approach their leadership positions with true servants’ hearts. They are heroes. I wish politicians would emulate them more.

I also found a few quotes about leadership while I was reading. I think they’re worth sharing here:

Changes

Change is inevitable; not to change is a sure sign of imminent extinction. Hans Finzel

This is true in almost every area of life. Look at a teenager. Holy cow, things are changing every single day, and sometimes multiple times a day. There’s also regular change in Church life, family life, society in general, world affairs, government, politics…you get the point?

Things change. It happens. So we look to leaders – servants who have gotten their hands dirty with us, who lead from the trenches – to help us navigate change. That’s how we move beyond merely surviving to thriving. And that’s what I want to do.

Change is inevitable. So why not make the most of it? Why not use it to expect our leaders to stop shooting for “just getting by” into the realm of dynamic, challenging, and inspirational leadership. That’s what our country needs.

Changing laws and changing hearts

And then there’s this quote. I like it. A lot. I’ve tried saying something similar. I even did it in one of the first posts I ever wrote. Mr. Greenleaf was just more succinct and eloquent.

we in the United States are more naive than most about what can be done with law, especially with the labyrinth of laws with which business is surrounded. It comes out better if one persuades rather than compels. Robert K. Greenleaf

I could easily write several posts that disagree with this quote. I could also write just as many posts supporting it. With that being said, I’d like for this quote to remind us that we cannot put all of our eggs in one basket if we want real, lasting change. And since change is going to happen anyway (see above), let’s pursue lasting change that makes a difference.

A change in leadership

Meaningful change can happen, folks. It can even happen in the midst of our national parties doing nothing but puffing themselves up while tearing their opponents down. We need real leadership. Servant leadership. And I imagine this happens from the ground up. It doesn’t require a top-level position. It does require dirty hands. And a servant’s heart.

I’m tired of putting people into power who are simply aiming to “get by,” aiming for the common denominator that gets them just enough votes to slip them into power. Aren’t you? Let’s do something about it.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab a towel. Let’s get started. Let’s navigate change together and make the world a better place. Together. If we do that, maybe our politicians will follow our lead. If not, maybe we need some new leadership.

Who’s with me?

Go after your dreams

"Nothing worthwhile was ever accomplished without the will to start, the enthusiasm to continue and, regardless of temporary obstacles, the persistence to complete" - Waite Phillips

Is there really anything else that needs to be said about this quote from Waite Phillips?

“Nothing worthwhile was ever accomplished without the will to start, the enthusiasm to continue and, regardless of temporary obstacles, the persistence to complete”

Waite Phillips should know. The oil tycoon turned philanthropist is the benefactor of Philmont Scout Ranch and his generosity has impacted millions of young men and women around the world. And I’m one of them. I learned a lot about life, leadership, and perseverance during my Philmont experiences. These lessons set a foundation for the rest of my life.

Thanks to the generosity of Waite Phillips, I have several dreams. And I’m not going to give up pursuing those dreams – even when it seems impossible. Because sometimes things are supposed to be hard. Life is hard. Obstacles can be difficult. That’s what makes them worth pursuing. And that’s what makes the achievement even more rewarding. Right?

I’ve got this. We’ve got this.

What are you dreaming about? Do you have any big, hairy, audacious goals?

Feel free to share your dreams and goals in the comments below. Let’sl work together to encourage, challenge, and support each other as we pursue our dreams. Because the dreams might be yours, and they might seem impossible, but you know what they say…

teamwork makes the dream work.

We’ve got this. No dream is too big. No dream is too silly, either. Let’s work together to accomplish our dreams. That’s how we’re going to make the world a better place. And it’s through this process that we discover what we were made to do, what we were made to be. And when we’ve discovered that, it’s when we truly start living.

So no more excuses. No more delay. It doesn’t matter how difficult things are. Let’s start working together to see our dreams become a reality.

Buy a bracelet or mug. Change the world

MudLOVE Cover

A few months ago, Aiden came home from a youth group retreat with a bracelet on his wrist. It was a MudLOVE band. Now, Aiden’s not the kind of guy to wear much jewelry, but this bracelet was different. He never took it off. He loves it. It’s his style. It has a good message and it’s for a good cause.

“If I’m ever raising money for a mission trip, I want to use them for a fundraiser,” he told us. It’s a pretty good fundraiser. You keep half the money raised from selling wrist bands or mugs. Plus, each item purchased provides one week of clean water for a person in the Central African Republic.

MudLOVE has partnered with Water for Good to help build and sustain wells in the Central African Republic. This is a life-saving, life-changing mission. Because clean water changes everything. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

MudLOVE mugs and bands help provide clean water to the Central African Republic.

So when we talked with Aiden about the possibility of needing to raise some funds to help cover the cost of his plane ticket to Ethiopia, he naturally suggested partnering with MudLOVE. Oh yeah – have I mentioned that Aiden is coming with us on this final adoption-related trip to Ethiopia? It just makes sense. He gets to experience his teenage brother’s homeland first-hand. And they get to spend some quality bonding time together before the craziness hits the fan when all SIX of us are finally under one roof together. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will probably change his life.

So he’s going.

He’s excited.

And we’re excited, too.

So to help offset some of the costs of adding him to our travel group (the grant organization that is paying for my plane ticket and Christy’s plane ticket won’t cover a sibling, which is totally understandable), Aiden has asked to host this fundraiser through MudLOVE. He loves these and he thinks you’ll love them, too!

A purchase of a bracelet or a mug will not only help him go to Ethiopia, but it will also help change the life of a person living in the midst of severe crisis.

So here’s the deal. Through MudLOVE, we are selling wrist bands and mugs. The Classic bands are $10 apiece if you choose one of the words that are already available. The word choices for these Classic Bands are: Beautiful, Believe, Blessed, Courage, Create, Dance, Dream, Faith, Family, Free, Friends, Grace, Hope, Imagine, Inspire, Joy, Laugh, Live, Love, Peace, Pray, Shine, Smile, Strength, and Trust.

Word choices for Classic Bands: Beautiful, believe, blesses, courage, create, dance, dream, faith, family, free, friends, grace, hope, imagine, inspire, joy, laugh, live, love, peace, pray, shine, smile, strength, trust.

You can also customize your band with your own unique message for $15 each. The maximum character limit is 13 characters, and you can use any combination of numbers and letters and a variety of special characters (like a cross, heart, ribbon, or music note – to name a few).

For either style of band, you can choose from these colors for the band’s elastic: White, Gray, Blue, Turquoise, Green, Lime,  Yellow, Gold, Orange, Pink, Red, Burgundy, Purple, Brown, Navy, and Black.

If you live outside of the Indianapolis or Evansville areas, please add $1.50 per 4 bracelets for shipping.

MudLOVE Mugs

We’re also able to offer some classy, hand-crafted mugs that are microwave and dishwasher safe. I’ll be honest. They’re beautiful. I wish I could buy them all. But that would defeat the purpose of a fundraiser. Right?

It’s the same concept as the bands. You can buy a classic mug for $25. Or you can customize your mug’s color and imprint for only $30.

Unfortunately, we don’t think we will be able to ship these. So unless there’s a way for us to meet in the Indianapolis or Evansville, IN, area – or if we’re planning on meeting sometime in the near future – please don’t order these mugs. I don’t think we can guarantee their safe arrival to your home.

Ready to order?

Great!

You can click my PayPal link and give all of the information there. Please include the type of band or mug (classic or custom) with the word(s) you’d like included, plus the color of your mug or the elastic. Don’t forget to include the $1.50 for shipping if we’re going to ship it out of state.

If you say it’s a good or service, PayPal will take out a fee. I’m just sayin’. Do with that what you will.

If you have any questions, concerns, or need clarification, please feel free to email me.

In order to have these items in-hand shortly after we return from Ethiopia, we’re going to place our MudLOVE order early Tuesday morning. So you have until Tuesday, 1/26, at 7:30 a.m. Eastern to place your order!

Thank you for your ongoing support of this adoption journey!

 

My New Year’s Resolution for 2016

Happy New Year

Well, 2015 has come and gone. And what a year it was! If you didn’t get a Christmas card with a letter included, don’t take it personal. We didn’t send any this year (again). Maybe next year?

So here’s a very brief look at some of our family highlights from 2015…

Aiden started his high school football career. Aly has taken her final year of middle school by the horns and is thriving as an 8th grader. Mihret was named her school’s Spotlight Student and was presented before the School Board.

Oh yeah, and Christy met our son for the first time.

Then five months later, I met him. And Weldu officially became a Todd.

Of course, there have been some bumps along the road. But 2015 was a pretty amazing journey.

My 2015 Best Nine
Thanks for the recap, 2015BestNine.com

As I look ahead to 2016, the year we should finally fill that empty seat at our table and have all SIX of us under one roof at the same time, it promises to be an exciting year. And I can’t wait.

I’ve never really been big on making New Year’s resolutions. I know a lot of people resolve to lose weight, eat healthier, get organized, spend less/save more, read the Bible regularly, or spend more time with family and friends. You know, the usual resolutions. Some have established SMART goals they want to achieve. They planned their work. Now they’re going to work their plans.

Those are great. If you have one of those resolutions, I hope you are able to keep it. I hope you can look back on December 31, 2016, and say “Yeah! I kicked that resolution in the teeth!”

Me? I don’t really have a resolution for 2016. Sure, there’s a lot I need to change. There’s a lot of me that needs fixing in the New Year. But I’m kind of taking a longer view on the changes that need to be made. This really isn’t a resolution for 2016. It’s more like a life goal. You could say it’s a New Year’s revolution.

I want to be known as a man of grace.

I don’t mean a guy who’s graceful on his feet like Fred Astaire.

Any hope for that kind of grace has been long-gone for a long time. Have you seen me try to dance? I’m no twinkle-toes. And I’m definitely no Fred Astaire. I’m much more like Matt Foley.

No. I’m not talking about my agility. I’m talking about having grace ooze out of every pore of my being. The way I see it, I can either be a man who is judgmental, trying to find the fault in every little thing. Or I can be a man full of grace, showering it on the world around me. I could be wrong about that. But if I have to be wrong, I’m going to choose to err on the side of grace. Because that’s what I’d hope people would do for me. Because, as the song says, grace wins. Every time.

When I come to the end of my days, and people gather together to put me in the ground, I want people to share stories about my compassion. I want the anecdotes people hear to be full of grace and forgiveness. There’s a lot of things I’d like to leave as a legacy for those closest to me. But at the top of the list, it’s grace.

I want to be known as a man of grace.

And I have such a long way to go before that happens. So I’m starting today.

What are your resolutions for 2016? What can I do to encourage you to keep that resolution?

Know their names. See their faces.

I know I’ve shared this quote before. But since it’s National Adoption Month, I think it’s worth sharing again.pablo (2)David Platt is right, unfortunately. “Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they are not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.” (Radical, emphasis mine).

I hope this blog makes it harder to ignore these little ones. I hope our story helps give voice to the voiceless, a voice that is impossible to ignore or get out of your head. I hope that seeing their faces and knowing their names spurs you to act.

I’m not saying that you have to adopt a child in order to stop ignoring orphans. Let me be very clear about that. Adoption is not the only way to care for orphans. There are countless other things you can do to stand in the gap for these kids. And some of them might live right next door to you. You don’t have to go halfway around the world to be there for a child who is parentless. It might only take walking across the street.

Don’t just sit there and say “Oh, someone should do something for these kids,” and leave it at that. Together, we can do something. We can change their worlds.

We cannot ignore them anymore.

We must pay attention.

And everything will change.

It will change their worlds. But it will also change yours. See them and listen to them and know them. That’s the only way things are ever going to change.

Be the change today.

Please.